Shlomo Ezagui

Yom Kippur. What a Lucky Day

What a phenomenal remarkable time of the year.

Rabbi Shmelkeh of Nikolsburg said, “I want to live in this world (only) because in the world to come, there are no High Holidays, and how could a soul function without a Yom Kippur? What flavor would there be to life without the possibility of Teshuvah?

Rabbi Yisroel Salant said, “If we were granted Yom Kippur only once in 70 years, how lucky we would be. Imagine how luckier we are that God grants us a Yom Kippur every year.”

“Yom Kippur includes the entire year. Every hour, every moment of the holy day includes (influences) many days of the (past and coming) year.”

When the Israelites were in the wilderness, having heard the Ten Commandments from God Himself, they rebelled against God by worshiping the golden calf. God was understandably extremely upset, to the point that no punishment ever befalls the Jewish people that do not include an element (of punishment for) of this sin.

Moses pleaded with God for forgiveness, and it was not until 120 days later, on the Day of Atonement, that they were forgiven. Thus, built into Yom Kippur is the spirit and energy of forgiveness and of restoring our relationship with God not only to what it was but to what it can become — a deeper and stronger one (after the sin) than ever before.

As long as one does not rebel against the holy day by doing what is strictly forbidden, the Talmud says, “The essence of the day brings forgiveness.” The simple act of living through the day in and of itself has the power to cleanse the internal spark of God that shines within us of any dirt that may have accumulated.

Rabbi M. M. Schneerson writes, “Repentance is repairing the present moment by regretting the past and resolving improvements for the future. When the present is [healthy and] in order, it is possible to recognize what was lacking in the past and take the necessary precautions for the future.”

On this very powerful day of Yom Kippur, the day that is (intimately) one with God in the power of forgiveness, one must stay focused only on the present and ask themselves the powerful questions one may not want to address throughout the year.

Do I believe in God? Do I really believe in my heart of hearts in God? Are my choices in life in line with my beliefs? Do I believe in a soul that lives on for all eternity? Are my choices in the past such that I would be proud of them before this God?

Once, the holy Baal Shem Tov ended up in a small village for Yom Kippur. He was told that the Rabbi of the city, who leads the prayers, instead of sounding contrite when singling out the transgressions, sings them with a joyous and upbeat melody.

The Baal Shem Tov asked him for an explanation, and the Rabbi said, “In every king’s estate, there is the servant whose job is to clean the dirt and filth. This servant — if he loves his king and is grateful for the merit he was granted to work in the king’s estate and serve the king, even when he is sweeping the dirt on the ground — will sing with deep and inner happiness at the opportunity.”

The Baal Shem Tov responded, “If this is your intention, may my lot be with you.”

On Yom Kippur, we make the blessing, “Shehechiyonu” — “King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.”

Yom Kippur, if only once in a lifetime, how fortunate we are to live through this day.

Chapter 207

About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" ( & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" ( In 1987, Rabbi Ezagui opened the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the island of Palm Beach, Florida.
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